Broadband bills among the dead in the California legislature

by Steve Blum • ,

The road kill this year in the California legislature includes several broadband and telecommunications-related bills that either missed a deadline for approval by either the full assembly or senate, or died a quiet in a committee. Those include…

Senate bill 566 by senator Mike McGuire (D – Healdsburg) would have required companies that provide telephone service – VoIP and cable companies included – to notify the state office of emergency services when rural connections go down and provide it with a real, live human to speak with about it as repairs proceed. Technically, it was 911 access, but as a practical matter pretty much all phone service connects to 911, so it was really about pretty much all phone service. It never made it to a hearing in the senate’s energy, utilities and communication committee.

SB 514 by senator Steven Bradford (D – Inglewood) attempted to set a minimum standard for state-subsidised broadband connections in schools. Effective in 2021, it would have pegged “high-speed broadband services” at 6 Mbps, although it wasn’t clear whether that was upload and download, or just download speed. In the end, it didn’t matter because it didn’t get out of the senate appropriations committee. The argument against it was that some rural schools might lose funding if upgraded service wasn’t available. On the other hand, it would have increased pressure on incumbents to upgrade infrastructure – forget about 2021, 6 Mbps isn’t adequate for schools now.

SB 327 by senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D – Santa Barbara) took on the Internet of Things. It would have required device manufacturers to include security measures and let consumers know what kind of data they’re collecting. Consumer groups supported it; industry groups opposed it. It made it as far as the senate floor, but no vote was taken and it was finally pulled by Jackson.

Assembly bill 252 by assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (D – Los Angeles) would have kept local governments from imposing taxes – sales, franchise or otherwise – on video streaming services, but stalled in committee. Cable companies and other traditional video providers stop paying taxes when consumers start watching video over the top, and cities have been looking for ways to replace that money. Industry supported AB 252 and, naturally, local governments opposed it.